Come and experience Astro Boy's massive identity crisis.
I've always liked to think of Astro Boy as being the proto-Mega Man. The little dude's got an arm canon and rocket boots, so he's basically the Blue Bomber with a Rush adaptor. You may also remember that Treasure made a wonderful Astro Boy game for the Game Boy Advance several years ago that pegged the original anime superhero in a bullet-hell horizontal shoot-'em-up. Astro Boy: The Video Game, adapted from the recent poorly received CG film, can't decide what it wants to be. It tries on all sorts of hats, including traditional platforming, beat-'em-up, horizontal shooter, and Gunstar Heroes-like boss fights, but manages to mangle them all. Astro Boy: The Video Game is an abomination that you should avoid.
The story is unessential. A scientist creates a robotic version of his dead son. The robot realizes he's a robot, runs away, and hijinks ensue. Most often, these hijinks take place on a side-scrolling battlefield. Every five feet, a little stop hand flashes on-screen and Astro Boy is forced to battle a million robots before the go hand flashes. Astro Boy has an arm canon, but seems to prefer fisticuffs. Imagine any other arm-canon hero doing this: Samus Aran, Mega Man, Ash from the Evil Dead series. It's absolutely asinine, and doesn't work in practice. For one thing, it's dreadfully boring. You just pound on the punch and kick buttons until everything's dead. Some enemies shoot bullets at you that you simply can't avoid because you can't duck or block.
Oh, wait, there's also the ability meter. Each enemy you kill drops an orb. Collect enough orbs and a series of icons on the touch screen light up. The more orbs you collect, the more icons light up. These are single-use powers that include, but are not limited to, a defense boost, an offense boost, completely healing yourself, and using your arm canon (once). You can either double-tap an icon to use the corresponding power or tap the icon, then press A. Either way, it's time-consuming and awkward. Aside from that, using a power drains all or most of your orb meter, so you have to start from scratch to power up another ability. The only ability you can use at all times is your rocket boots, which function as a double-jump. Given their single-use attributes, you'd think that the arm canon and machine gun (which comes out of Astro Boy's ass—and he looks surprised) would be insta-kill weapons that clear the screen. They do not, thus blunting their effectiveness. The only power you'll be using consistently is the one that takes the longest to charge—the heal ability.
After fighting endless waves of robots, you'll come to infuriating platforming sections with moving floors and lots of spikes. You will die often in these areas, because the jumping and rocket-jumping are so imprecise that you will usually land on the spikes. This is as much a consequence of the jumping as the constantly zoomed-in camera, which denies any view of nearby dangers. Sometimes, the spikes merely damage you. Other times, they kill you outright. I especially love the rising and falling platforms that pass by turrets. Because you cannot duck or block, you just get shot outright for the entire ride.
After reaching an entirely arbitrary end point, you come to a horizontal shooter section. Astro Boy himself takes up an extraordinarily large portion of the screen. Enemies shoot his gigantic frame with wild abandon, and there's often very little you can do to avoid their shots. Imagine a bullet-hell game with Optimus Prime in vehicle form! It is here, and only here, that Astro Boy uses his arm canon as his default weapon.
There are some boss fights, too, and there's just something wrong about the idea of punching and kicking a giant mechanical threat instead of standing back and shooting your arm canon from a safe distance. I think you can see where things go wrong pretty quickly.
Do yourself a favor and hunt down the GBA game if you have an Astro Boy craving. Just ignore this pile, which is 100 percent pure, uncut shovelware.